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Brandon Trust: using technology to support people with a learning disability to be independent

Brandon Trust: using technology to support people with a learning disability to be independent

People supported by Brandon Trust, a learning disability charity, have been using an app which provides video content to help people with learning disabilities to develop independent living skills.

 

Background

Brandon Trust is charity that supports around 1,500 children, young people and adults with a learning disability, autism or both.

A group of people the organisation supports in Bristol were looking for a digital device that they could use as an additional learning tool to support independence in their day to day lives. According to the 2019 Ofcom report, 70% of adults with learning disabilities have a smartphone and 69% have a tablet device.

In March 2019, the group began to use a video app, called AutonoMe, to help them to develop independent living skills at home through instructional content on their mobile phone or tablet.

Hannah Godden is a support worker for Brandon Trust, she says:

“Each individual is able to look through different everyday tasks and see what they feel they could do with more support with. This could be something like making a sandwich, cleaning the bathroom, or securing their house when they go to bed.”

The videos held on the app show  people how to do a task and are broken down into simple step by step instructions. They are jargon free and the device just needs to be able to access WiFi, 3G or 4G connection.

There are over 100 videos available which are devised into 4 key areas: cooking, cleaning, safety and personal hygiene.

Hannah explains:

“Visual aids can go a long way to helping support someone. It gives the people we support an extra tool alongside the help from a support worker.”

 

Getting set up

The videos are streamed through a secure app and there’s even a scan barcode option for those who may find username and passwords difficult.

Hannah says:

“I’m not the most technically-minded person, but it was straightforward to get set up and get the people we support making use of it.”

 

Technology and support worker side by side

By using these instructional videos, people learn to complete a task every time, no matter which support worker is working alongside them. As they gain confidence, support workers can gradually give them more independence.

People can also use the app to self-assess their progress and this data helps support workers and managers track an individual’s progress.

AutonoMe was founded by Will Britton who has a background in video production. Whilst working in the industry he got a 2-week temp job supporting students with learning disabilities and enjoyed the experience so much that he began to focus his career on vulnerable people.

Founded in 2015, AutonoMe combines Will’s skills in video production with his passion for helping those with learning disabilities live independent lives.

Will says:

“It’s not to replace people, the point is that technology can be a core part of how you support people with learning disabilities. If you can combine technology and people together, you can get a better care package for the service user, and ultimately a better outcome.”

The videos are always there should a service user need them, and AutonoMe are creating new videos of tasks all the time.

Hannah says:

“The idea is that eventually the supported person will be able to achieve the task on their own with no prompts. The app has definitely been helpful for that.”

The app also has inbuilt notifications so the service user can be reminded to do a task. Will explains:

“For example, if their recycling is on Thursday, the app will remind a user on Wednesday evening to put the bins out.”

 

Lessons learnt

  • Test technical tools with people to see if it’s something that they would find useful
  • People who already have a smartphone or tablet will be better suited to use the technology
  • Most app users are between the ages of 16 and 40
  • The most successful users of the app are those interested in and committed to developing their independence.

 

Costs

Costs vary depending on whether you are Local Authority or a commercial provider, please contact the AutonoMe team for more information.

 

Further information

For more information about Brandon Trust visit www.brandontrust.org

To find out more about AutonoMe visit www.autono.me.uk

 

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